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June 27, 2013

BTB Column: Van De Velde out effective Monday

Louisiana Tech Athletic Director Bruce Van De Velde stepped down after months of speculation regarding his future at Tech. His tenure from 2010 to 2013 experienced highs and lows competitively. Van De Velde says he is proud of what he accomplished at Tech.

"My experience at Louisiana Tech has been both rewarding and challenging," said Van De Velde. "I am proud of my contributions to the competitive and academic success of our student-athletes and coaches, and to have enhanced a culture of honesty, integrity, competitive and academic excellence within the athletic department."

Van De Velde found himself in the middle of controversy in December when the Bulldog football team would not be participating in a bowl game despite finishing 9-3 and going on the road to beat Illinois, Virginia, and Houston.

Louisiana Tech had plenty of success under Van De Velde highlighted by an invitation to Conference USA under his watch. During his tenure as athletics director, Louisiana Tech has enjoyed success both athletically and academically. He led the hiring of head football coach Sonny Dykes in 2010 and head men's basketball coach Mike White in 2011, both of who coached their respective teams to top 25 national rankings this past season and selections as WAC Coach of the Year.

Despite the success of the most visible sports, Football and Men's Basketball, there will be challenges for the new Athletic Director. Baseball recently finished their third losing season in four years at 19-37. Women's basketball is 31-32 over the last two seasons. For a program with three national championships and a perennial staple on the women's basketball landscape this is a disappointment.

Facilities at Tech have always been one of the major concerns and while improvements were made under Van De Velde's watch to the soccer, baseball and softball complexes. Many have been concerned with the speed at is taking to get the multi-purpose facility started inside Joe Aillet Stadium on the south end.

The new Athletic Director will be charged with getting Quest for Excellence project of the South endzone facility inside Joe Aillet Stadium off the ground. With a new President coming in, the timing was right for new leadership in the Thomas Assembly Center.

"We will conduct this search with a focus on identifying candidates that share our vision and philosophies regarding intercollegiate athletics, its responsibility to our student-athletes and supporters, and its overall role within the university," said incoming President Les Guice. "Our committee will be thorough yet timely in the vetting of candidates to ensure the momentum that Louisiana Tech Athletics has built over the past several years is not diminished."

Louisiana Tech set the wheels in motion late in 2006 when President Dan Reneau recommitted his emphasis on athletics. Facility upgrades have steadily been under way, the budget has grown, coaching salaries have risen, and as a result a new conference affiliation was achieved. If the new President and Athletic Director can build on that momentum, the potential of Louisiana Tech is unfathomable.

Staff and wire reports contributed to this story.

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